Levey, Michael 1927- (Sir Michael Vincent Levey)

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Levey, Michael 1927- (Sir Michael Vincent Levey)


Born June 8, 1927, in London, England; son of O.L.H. and Gladys Mary Levey; married Brigid Brophy (a novelist and critic), June 12, 1954; children: Katharine Jane. Education: Exeter College, Oxford, B.A., 1950.


Home—London, England.


National Gallery, London, England, assistant keeper, 1951-66, deputy keeper, 1966-68, keeper, 1968-73, director, 1973-86. Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, Slade Professor, 1963-64; Oxford University, Oxford, England, Slade Professor of Fine Art, 1993-94. Military service: British Army, King's Shropshire Light Infantry, 1945-48; became captain.


Royal Society of Literature (fellow).


Lieutenant of Royal Victorian Order, 1965; Hawthornden Prize, 1968, for Early Renaissance; honorary fellow, Exeter College, Oxford, 1973; knighted by Queen Elizabeth, 1981; Banister Fletcher Prize, 1986, for Giambattista Tiepolo: His Life and Art.


Six Great Painters, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1956.

The Eighteenth Century Italian Schools (catalogue), National Gallery (London, England), 1956.

A Brief History of the National Gallery, Pitkin Pictorials (London, England), 1957, 3rd edition published as A Brief History of the National Gallery with a Representative Selection of Pictures, 1960.

Painting in Eighteenth Century Venice, Phaidon (London, England), 1959, revised edition, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY), 1980.

The German School (catalogue), National Gallery (London, England), 1959.

A Concise History of Painting: From Giotto to Cezanne, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1962, Praeger (New York, NY), 1964.

A Room-to-Room Guide to the National Gallery, National Gallery (London, England), 1964, 2nd revised edition, 1966.

Dürer, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1964.

Canaletto Paintings in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Phaidon (London, England), 1964.

The Later Italian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Phaidon (London, England), 1964.

Rococo to Revolution: Major Trends in Eighteenth Century Painting, Praeger (New York, NY), 1966, reprinted, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1985.

(With wife, Brigid Brophy, and Charles Osborne) Fifty Works of English and American Literature We Could Do Without, Rapp & Carroll (London, England), 1967, Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1968.

Early Renaissance, Penguin (New York, NY), 1967, reprinted, 1987.

A History of Western Art, Praeger (New York, NY), 1968.

The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1969.

Painting at Court (Wrightsman Lectures), New York University Press (New York, NY), 1971.

The Life and Death of Mozart, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (London, England), 1971, Stein & Day (New York, NY), 1972.

The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Italian Schools, National Gallery (London, England), 1971.

(With Wendgraf Kalnein) Art and Architecture of the Eighteenth Century in France, Penguin (New York, NY), 1972.

The Nude, National Gallery (London, England), 1972.

The Venetian Scene, National Gallery (London, England), 1973.

Botticelli, National Gallery (London, England), 1974.

High Renaissance, Penguin (New York, NY), 1975.

The World of Ottoman Art, Scribner (New York, NY), 1975.

Ruisdael: Jacob van Ruisdael and Other Painters of His Family, National Gallery (London, England), 1977.

The Case of Walter Pater, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1978.

Sir Thomas Lawrence, 1769-1830, National Portrait Gallery (London, England), 1979, published as Sir Thomas Lawrence, for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2005.

The Painter Depicted: Painters as a Subject in Painting, Thames & Hudson (London, England), 1982.

Tempting Fate (novel), Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1982.

An Affair on the Appian Way (novel), Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1984.

(Editor and author of introduction) Walter Pater, Marius the Epicurean, Penguin (New York, NY), 1985.

Kenneth Mackenzie Clark, 1903-1983, British Academy (London, England), 1985, Longwood Publishing Group (Dover, NH), 1986.

Giambattista Tiepolo: His Life and Art, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1986.

(Editor, with G.M.S. Scimone) London Museums and Collections, Canal (London, England), 1986.

Complete Paintings of Botticelli, Penguin (New York, NY), 1986.

Director's Choice, National Gallery (London, England), 1986.

The National Gallery Collection, National Gallery (London, England), 1987.

The Later Italian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1991.

Painting and Sculpture in France, 1700-1789, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1993.

Florence: A Portrait, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1996.

(Editor) The Burlington Magazine: A Centenary Anthology, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2003.

Also author of the novel Men at Work, Hamish Hamilton (London, England). Contributor to books, including Essays on Dürer, edited by C.R. Dodwell, Manchester University Press (Manchester, England), 1973. Contributor to Burlington, London, New Statesman, and other periodicals.


Art historian and author Michael Levey was affiliated with the prestigious National Gallery in London, England, for over three decades. His retirement came after thirteen years as director of the gallery. Levey's Early Renaissance was applauded by a Times Literary Supplement contributor for featuring the Renaissance as "the story of human actions and reactions, as the story of man and his world. Mercifully it is not treated as some vague conceptual movement taking place in the no-man's-land of historicism." In his biography Giambattista Tiepolo: His Life and Art, Levey turns his talents to what some would consider the Italian master painter of the eighteenth century. In a Spectator review of the Tiepolo biography, David Ekserdjian maintained that Levey "belongs to an increasingly endangered but happily not yet extinct species of art historian, whose scholarship is impeccable and who have the far rarer gift of being able to write like a dream. There will be more time for books now, but even Sir Michael Levey will not find it easy to rival this exceptionally articulate and elegant labour of love."

Florence: A Portrait is a collection of a wealth of materials, all centered on one of the richest, most artistic cities in Europe, Florence. Levey's research began with the Renaissance and continued up into the nineteenth century, resulting in a chapter-by-chapter, period-by-period account of the great artistic achievements of the city. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that the book appears limited to art, history, and important people, but provides very little information regarding the daily lives of ordinary individuals. The contributor concluded, however, that "if at times the detail overwhelms the big picture, the 150 illustrations (50 in color) and Levey's excellent artistic counsel make this a worthy guide." Booklist contributor Brad Hooper declared it "a book worthy of the time it demands."

Levey served as editor for the The Burlington Magazine: A Centenary Anthology, a celebratory book to honor the arts magazine's longevity. Through the years, various luminaries have either served on the editorial staff or offered contributions, making its centennial a marvel of sorts. Michael Glover, reviewing for Spectator, noted that the book is "an attempt to give an idea of the kinds of articles which have characterized the magazine since its inception." Martin G. Kalfatovic, in a review for Library Journal, wrote that Levey's effort "will give the casual reader a quick lesson in the changes that have occurred in critical thinking during this time."



Booklist, August, 1996, Brad Hooper, review of Florence: A Portrait, p. 1877.

Library Journal, September 1, 2003, Martin R. Kalfatovic, review of The Burlington Magazine: A Centenary Anthology, p. 161.

Spectator, December 20-27, 1986, David Ekserdjian, review of Giambattista Tiepolo: His Life and Art; April 26, 2003, Michael Glover, "A Critical Century Not Out," p. 36.

Times Literary Supplement, February 1, 1968, review of Early Renaissance.

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Levey, Michael 1927- (Sir Michael Vincent Levey)

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